Thefts of diesel and home heating oil on the rise, Ballyhaunis court hears

Garda Inspector Joe Doherty this week made an application in Ballyhaunis District Court for the forfeiture of a van used in an attempted diesel theft and for the disqualification from driving of a man who pleaded guilty to the charge. Judge Mary Devins adjourned the sentencing on the issue until April 5 while she considered the applications.

The application stemmed from a case in which two men, Ian McHugh, Park Road, Swinford, and Barry O’Gara, Pollea, Williamstown, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to the theft of diesel from a quarry, criminal damage to the quarry, and to entering a building or property with the intention of committing a crime.

Garda Tyrone Tobin told the court that he received a call at 10.35pm on November 22 2010 to come to Rings Quarry, Kilkelly, Co Mayo, from the owner as there was a theft in progress. He arrived at the quarry and met the owner and his son, who showed him the gate of the quarry which had the deadbolt locking it cut off. He went into the quarry and found a white van beside a diesel tank with the back doors open. He inspected the van and found three 1,000 litre tanks inside. One of the tanks had a pipe connecting it to the diesel tank in the quarry; attached to the tank was a electronic pump. The first tank in the van had been filled with 1,000 litres of diesel valued at €1,200. On carrying out a search of the quarry he found O’Gara hiding between two piles of rock in the quarry and arrested him and brought him to Ballyhaunis Garda station. On November 23 McHugh, a second hand car salesman and vehicle recovery driver, contacted him and told him that he was also at the quarry on the night in question. On November 25 Garda Tobin met with McHugh and arrested and charged him. McHugh admitted to Garda Tobin that he was the owner of the van and that he had driven it to the quarry that night. He also admitted to the garda that he was the owner of an angle grinder that was found at the scene, following a full search, that had been used to cut open the deadlock on the gate, resulting in €1,100 worth of damage.

Inspector Joe Doherty told the court that unfortunately this type of crime was on the rise, along with the theft of home heating oil from homes and that it was a very difficult crime to prove unless the people are caught in the act such as happened in this case. He made the request to forfeit the van used to the State, along with a disqualification from driving to be imposed on McHugh, saying that people needed to be aware that if they get involved in this type of crime they will be punished by the law. Judge Devins, while she accepted the plea of both men, will consider her sentencing and the application from the inspector and give her verdict on April 5.

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